10/05/20 Boris Johnson in his broadcast to the nation says the UK is taking “the first careful steps” in easing the corona-virus lock-down, with people in England allowed to spend more leisure time outside from Wednesday. The government wants to “encourage people to take more and even unlimited amounts of outdoor exercise” – provided they stick to social distancing guidelines and stay two metres apart. In a bid to kick-start the economy, anyone who cannot work from home – such as those in construction and manufacturing – should be “actively encouraged” to go to work from tomorrow. Explaining how things will change from Wednesday, he added: “You can sit in the sun in your local park, you can drive to other destinations, you can even play sports but only with members of your own household.” “You should avoid public transport if at all possible, and travel by car, cycle or walk because we must and will maintain social distancing, and capacity will therefore be limited,” he added.
No doubt this change of emphasis from ‘stay at home’ to ‘stay alert’ will cause problems for a great many people, we shall see over the next few weeks who sets about getting to grips with the new regulations and who wallows in vacuous rhetoric.
The weather has changed; thick cloud, windy and bitterly cold. Sue stayed busy all day, first visiting Charlotte in Rothwell to drop off sweets for the boys, cooking Sunday lunch and then starting a new jigsaw. Apart from moving the delicate pot plants into the green house to avoid the forecast frosts over the coming nights, and spending a fruitless hour attempting to persuade my tablet to communicate with the Eye-fi SD card in my camera, I felt lost and lethargic. I even spent an hour in bed during the afternoon! Is this the start of lock-down syndrome?
Perhaps the most interesting and possibly enlightening thing I did today was to read an article called: Lockdown Stockholm Syndrome. A fascinating and researched blog by Rob Slane which questions the validity of the UK’s (and for the most part, the rest of the world) with Sweden’s approach to tackling Corvid-19. He takes the Imperial College model of viral infection that the British government uses and applied it to Sweden with very, very eye-opening comparisons that does make one consider whether not only is the UK Government’s draconian policy based on faulty predictions, but have many others taken to such severe measures based on flawed so-called science too? He has written a very persuasive article which questions the legitimacy of the science behind the countermeasures. Worth reading!
11/05/20 Britons are now being advised to wear face masks on public transport and in some shops where social distancing is not possible. After weeks of insisting that there was little scientific evidence to suggest that such coverings were effective in preventing the spread of corona-virus, the government has changed its advice. Well, well, well, better late than never. Good news for the T-shirt manufacturers as we cut out masks from their new utility torso wear range. I fully expect some bright entrepreneur to brand an exclusive style with printed scissor lines to reflect their dual purpose.
After lunch, well wrapped up against a bitterly cold northern breeze Sue and I went Geocaching. Last week we had found a magnetic micro Geocache laying on a footpath. It had probably been muggled and discarded. During the morning, after a bit of research on-line I found its original location alongside the Grand Union canal and we decided to replace it. A twenty minute walk took us to its location, as it was magnetic we soon found the metal post that it had been originally attached to, but as is often the case we had to wait awhile for passing, social distancing muggles before the deed could be done. We also planned to discover three more caches on our foray out into the pandemic world, so after logging the return of the cache online we set-off to find them. Exasperatingly, the first one was by a bridge over the canal next to a Traveller/Gypsy site. Two young lads from the site were noisily sitting on the bridge, casting a rope with a large magnet into the water. Alongside the bank was a couple of old bikes and a metal ladder that they had fished out of the river. They professed to be cleaning out the ‘river’ to stop the fish dying. We watched them awhile listening and joining in with their ridiculous chatter, before deciding not to search for the cache while they were there. We moved on to the next bridge and the location of another cache After 15 minutes of ferreting along the hedge indicated it was hidden in, we gave up, convinced that it had been previously muggled. I reported a DNF on-line and again we moved on. Returning to where the metal anglers had been and now thankfully weren’t, we soon found our prize and reported it as FOUND on-line. The next cache proved to be a conundrum. We located the clue, ‘six trees from one base‘ but no amount of foraging around could unearth the micro-cache. Spiked and stung we eventually gave up and reported a DNF. On our way home the sun eventually decided to throw some heat out and the end of the day turned out to be quite pleasant.
12/05/20 Russia began to slightly ease its nationwide lock-down on Tuesday even as its number of corona-virus cases continued to grow, with the country now overtaking Spain to become the second largest epidemic in the world behind only the United States. Russia’s health ministry said the country now has 232,243 confirmed cases, following a week where it had been registering more than 10,000 new cases a day. Like Boris Johnson, Russia’s prime minister Mikhail Mishustin has also already spent more than a week in the hospital after testing positive for the virus. Experts have also been trying to understand why Russia’s official death toll — 2,116 — is ridiculously low. At around 13 deaths per million, it is far lower than the global average of 36 deaths per million and far less than other countries with a similar number of cases. In a country where deception and corruption is the norm and to a degree largely accepted by its population, I think on this occasion Mr. Putin’s grip on power, like his friend Mr. Trump, is going to come under pressure. Not a scenario for a peaceful conclusion to the end of a pandemic! We shall see.
Disaster! A beautifully sunny morning turned rather sour on returning from my morning cycle through an increasingly colourful and vibrant Leicestershire countryside I noticed the two fig trees growing up against the fence had been frosted! The BBC weather forecaster had lied last night!!!! Checking on my vegetable patch, every singly potato plant had been bitten by Jack Frost, it was the same with my grape vines. For gardeners, May has always carried the danger of a late seasonal frost and giving way to optimism is always a bit of a gamble. I guess to a minor extent there is some comparison with those countries now moving into ‘Ease-down’. Without accurate, unbiased data and authorities willing to tell the truth, its populations, like my fruit and vegetables are going to suffer the consequences. I made a bad call by putting my faith in the BBC when it assured me that the temperature would only dip below freezing in the north. If you can’t trust the BBC, who can you?
Sue, completed another jigsaw and spent much of the rest of the day sorting out the mountain of official paperwork that we have accumulated over the past few years; bank statements, insurance documents, government paraphernalia, etc. etc. etc. I am not sure whether she enjoys filing, but she does it well and I am certainly happy to leave it in her hands. Somehow, in-between she found time to respond on-line to members of the Tenbury Wells Memories Group as one of their Visual Story Tellers (VST).
In the afternoon we had a brief (check-up-on-the-parents) visit by Charlotte, she came away with some coriander and lettuce plants from the greenhouse. During the evening I sat and checked through a 3000 word dissertation for Ruth, that (except for Lock-down) would have been a 3 hour exam for her BSc (Hons) Quantity Surveying & Commercial Management qualification from Nottingham Trent University. It was issued as an open book to be completed over 24 hours. I suppose that educational institutions have to resort to such measures if they are going to attempt to keep their courses on track.